New Study Examines Global Trade of Ammunition

Chapter (PDF)

WASHINGTON DC — The Small Arms Survey released its tenth annual global analysis of small arms and related issues, the “Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, Groups, and Guns”.

Matt Schroeder, manager of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), co-authored the chapter on the global ammunition trade.

According to the new study, the first to examine the trade in ammunition for both small arms and light weapons, the global trade in ammunition is considerably less transparent than the trade in the weapons themselves.

This edition of the Survey also reveals that:
• The USD 4.3 billion ammunition finding shows that the long-standing estimate of USD 4 billion for the total trade (including weapons, parts, and accessories) considerably undervalues recent activity.

• In 2007, 26 countries had documented exports of small arms ammunition worth more than USD 10 million.

• The trade in propellant chemicals is worth at least tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of US dollars each year.

• Governments procure most of their light weapons ammunition from domestic producers when possible. Therefore, international transfers of light weapons ammunition are probably a small percentage of global public procurement.

• Ammunition imported by Western countries is overwhelmingly sourced from Western companies. Public procurement data from seven Western states indicates that in recent years they have received less than four per cent of their light weapons ammunition (by value) from non-Western firms.

• In 2007 the top exporters of all small arms and light weapons (those with annual exports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, China, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey, and the Russian Federation. The top importers of all small arms and light weapons for 2007 (those with annual imports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, and Spain.

Published by Cambridge University Press, the report is the principle source of public information and analysis on all aspects of small arms and armed violence.


Matt Schroeder

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Copyright prevents us from making a copy of the chapter available here, but we’re allowed to share a PDF-copy with individual contacts. Otherwise a brief summary is available here. The estimates are similar to the ones I update on the FAS web site, with slight differences due to production time and counting categories, and are based on the analysis I do with Robert Norris in the Nuclear Notebook in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

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